I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), which was established to improve the delivery of Education Services to persons with special educational needs, now provides a Regional Support Service for schools.
The service includes the Special Education Support Service (SESS), the National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS) and the Visiting Teacher Service for children with sensory impairment (VTHVI service).
The role of the National Behavioural Support Service is to assist partner schools in addressing current behavioural concerns on three levels. The NBSS works with schools in addressing students’ social, emotional, academic and behavioural needs at Level 1: school-wide for all students, Level 2: targeted intervention for some students and Level 3: intensive individualised support for a few students.
The NBSS supports teachers to develop a school ‘Behaviour for Learning Programme’ specifically targeted at students in need of intensive individualised intervention
They can also support the provision of intensive individualised support to students in NBSS partner schools, by Behaviour for Learning Programme Teacher(s) or by various school personnel in partnership with NBSS team members.
The NBSS also researches, collates and disseminates evidence that informs the development of a school-wide positive behavioural approach that meets the needs of schools and provides sustainable long-term outcomes.
At present, the NBSS is working with over 103 post primary schools throughout the country.
Further details of the range of programmes and supports which can be provided to schools by the NCSE National Behavioural Support Service are available at https://www.nbss.ie/ncse
Schools are also supported in dealing with behavioural issues by the National Educational Psychological Services.
Special Needs Assistant Supports are also provided to schools to assist to provide for the care needs of pupils attending their schools, including where these care needs relating to behavioural issues, in accordance with the criteria set out in DES Circular 30/2014.
Over 13,400 additional special education teachers are also provided for mainstream primary and post primary schools to provide additional teaching support for pupils with special educational needs, or additional learning needs, including where those additional learning needs arise due to behavioural issues.
The NCSE Regional Support Service also provides for a range of Continuing Professional Development and Training programmes on behavioural support.
Furthermore, earlier this year, Government approved the trialling of a new School Inclusion Model, a new integrated education and health service model for supporting students with additional needs. One element of this new model is the establishment, on a pilot basis, of an expanded NCSE Regional Support Team in the Community Healthcare Organisation area (CHO 7), which will include behaviour practitioners. This is a new post within the NCSE and the work of the behaviour practitioners will be focused on building NCSE’s capacity to support schools in promoting positive behaviour and preventing and managing challenging behaviours should they arise.
Consideration of any further extension of the role of behavioural support teachers will be informed by the evaluation of the School Inclusion Model. Costings in relation to any possible expansion of the role of behavioural support teachers has therefore not taken place to date.